The queen made it official by bestowing upon her the title of Dame, but those who have followed Laura Davies for the past three decades know she is a lady of the first order.
Dame Laura always has been approachable and candid. Back in the old days when many LPGA players were guarded and, quite frankly, dull, and now when they represent the most accessible and friendly group of athletes in sports, Davies was always consistent, funny, thoughtful and kind.
And if you asked her a question you could expect an honest and well-crafted answer.
Now 50, she hasn’t changed. At the Ricoh Women’s British Open, where she opened with a disappointing round of 75, Davies was asked about the practice of LPGA caddies lining up their players.
“It shouldn’t be allowed,” she quipped without hesitation. “It’s a basic part of golf, alignment. You’re not allowed to get a grip that’s perfectly set for you, so why should you have someone stand behind you and tell you where to aim? I don’t understand why the USGA and the R&A haven’t sussed that one out yet because it just seems basic to me. And it slows the game down.”
That last point is a sore one for Davies, who believes that golf in general, and especially in the women’s professional game, has become an interminable slog. Playing with her in a pro-am at the old Chick-fil-A Charity Classic in Atlanta many years ago, I got a first-hand taste of her priorities. When she introduced herself to all of us on the first tee she said, “Gents, we have two goals today: We’re going to have great fun and we’re going to get on with it. Play without delay. Does that sound reasonable?”
Indeed it did, and we would have achieved both had it not been for the groups ahead of us who took outrageous lengths of time lining up and analyzing shots they had no chance of executing.
Because I stand over putts a few seconds longer than most, I felt the need to apologize. She said, “No need for that. You putt really well and you don’t muck about. Nothing wrong with that at all.”
More top-flight LPGA players have moved away from the crutch and told their caddies to stand aside. Paula Creamer had her man line her up for many years but has abandoned the practice. And Michelle Wie got a few lines from her caddie en route to winning the U.S. Women’s Open, but it wasn’t a part of her routine.
Still, Dame Laura sets a pretty high bar when it comes to fast play. In the first group out she has been known to scoot around in two hours. While no one expects the game to get that quick, we would all be well served by taking her advice: Have fun and get on with it. Play without delay.